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Premier Arts wants to create better citizens by getting kids involved in theater

The theater company wants kids to discover fine arts at a young age. 

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 5:52 p.m.

Premier Arts thinks kids should have a basic understanding of theater before fourth grade.

So this school year, it adopted all the third-grade students in Elkhart Community Schools.

The kids have attended special matinee performances at The Lerner Theater. They've learned from Premier Arts volunteers who visited their schools. And they got the chance to learn acting, singing and dancing for themselves Tuesday, May 13.

Craig Gibson, executive creative director for Premier Arts, said this idea started last fall when Elkhart Superintendent Rob Haworth spoke with Premier’s board and asked the board to engage in student learning.

Premier Arts jumped at the challenge and gathered financial support from local donors.

Every performance students attended was paid for by donations, including bus transportation for students and teachers. Tuesday’s workshops included lunch and a T-shirt, and cost $33 per child, Gibson said.

That money, too, was donated — a total of nearly $40,000 for the 1,200 third-graders who attended.

While kids learned about fine arts, their teachers were across the street at the Midwest Museum of American Art learning about local arts resources they could use in the classroom.

Hawthorne teacher Kristy Camacho said that in third grade, Elkhart students studying social studies learn about their community.

She was excited to tell her students about a display of American art that’s right here in Elkhart, especially the museum’s Norman Rockwell collection.

She said her students have loved attending Premier Arts shows this year, especially “Alice in Wonderland,” because it was a colorful show and many of the characters were kids.

Gibson emphasized that Premier isn't trying to get every kid into a theater career.

"This has never been about creating the next superstar,” he said. “It’s about creating better citizens, getting people used to the theater at a young age.”

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

 




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